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1.  Cigarette smoking during pregnancy: chromosome translocations and phenotypic susceptibility in mothers and newborns 
Mutation research  2010;696(1):81-88.
The effects of maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy on structural chromosome aberrations were evaluated in peripheral lymphocytes from 239 mothers and their 241 newborns to determine whether smoking during pregnancy, genetic susceptibility, and race are associated with chromosome aberrations including translocations. Demographic information and cigarette smoking data were obtained via questionnaire. There were 119 Caucasian Americans, 118 African Americans, and 2 Asian Americans. The average maternal age was 24.9 ± 5.8 (mean ± S.D.) years. Thirty-nine percent of the Caucasian Americans and 45.4% of the African Americans self-reported that they were active smokers during the index pregnancy. The average number of cigarettes smoked per day was 2.65 ± 5.75 and 1.37 ± 3.17 for Caucasian and African American mothers, respectively. Peripheral blood lymphocytes from the mother and from the fetal side of the placenta were evaluated for chromosome aberrations by whole chromosome painting and for genetic susceptibility using an in vitro bleomycin challenge assay. Spontaneous translocation frequencies in both maternal and newborn lymphocytes were not associated with cigarette smoking, socio-economic status, or education. The absence of a smoking effect may be attributable to the low level of cigarette usage in these subjects. The average bleomycin-induced damage in the maternal and newborn populations was 0.37 ± 0.27 and 0.15 ± 0.14 breaks per cell, respectively, a difference that was highly significant (p < 0.0001). In newborns there was a positive association between bleomycin sensitivity and the frequencies of aberrations as measured by chromosome painting: p ≤ 0.0007 for dicentrics and fragments, and p ≤ 0.002 for translocations. Caucasian American newborns demonstrated a significant association between dicentrics and fragments as measured by painting, and bleomycin sensitivity (p ≤ 0.0002), but no such association was observed for African American newborns. The results of this study indicate that while differences were observed between African Americans and Caucasian Americans, race does not appear to be a major contributor to chromosome damage in newborns or their mothers. However, peripheral lymphocytes in pregnant women are more susceptible to genetic damage than peripheral lymphocytes in newborns.
PMCID: PMC3519101  PMID: 20060061
cigarette smoking; pregnancy; newborns; mothers; chromosome translocations; genomic susceptibility
2.  Diagnostic X-ray examinations and increased chromosome translocations: evidence from three studies 
Controversy regarding potential health risks from increased use of medical diagnostic radiologic examinations has come to public attention. We evaluated whether chromosome damage, specifically translocations, which are a potentially intermediate biomarker for cancer risk, was increased after exposure to diagnostic X-rays, with particular interest in the ionizing radiation dose–response below the level of approximately 50 mGy. Chromosome translocation frequency data from three separately conducted occupational studies of ionizing radiation were pooled together. Studies 1 and 2 included 79 and 150 medical radiologic technologists, respectively, and study 3 included 83 airline pilots and 50 university faculty members (total = 155 women and 207 men; mean age = 62 years, range 34–90). Information on personal history of radiographic examinations was collected from a detailed questionnaire. We computed a cumulative red bone marrow (RBM) dose score based on the numbers and types of X-ray examinations reported with 1 unit approximating 1 mGy. Poisson regression analyses were adjusted for age and laboratory method. Mean RBM dose scores were 49, 42, and 11 for Studies 1–3, respectively (overall mean = 33.5, range 0–303). Translocation frequencies significantly increased with increasing dose score (P < 0.001). Restricting the analysis to the lowest dose scores of under 50 did not materially change these results. We conclude that chromosome damage is associated with low levels of radiation exposure from diagnostic X-ray examinations, including dose scores of approximately 50 and lower, suggesting the possibility of long-term adverse health effects.
PMCID: PMC3075914  PMID: 20602108

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